Vatican Beatifies Entire Family for the First Time

News: World News
by Nicholas Wylie  •  •  September 11, 2023   

Family executed for sheltering Jews during Holocaust

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MARKOWA, Poland ( - An entire Polish family is being recognized by the Church for its heroic efforts to save Jews from Nazi persecution.


The Ulma family

(Photo: The International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation)

Józef and Wiktoria Ulma — along with their seven children — were beatified Sunday in the village of Markowa, 79 years after being executed by the German police for harboring eight Jewish men and women on their farm. 

"In response to the hatred and violence that characterized those times, they embraced evangelical love," Pope Francis proclaimed from the Vatican. The holy father also called the Ulma family "a model to imitate in our efforts to do good and serve those who are in need."

Cdl. Marcello Semeraro, prefect of the Dicastery for the Causes of Saints, presided over the beatification Mass, which Vatican News reported "was concelebrated by 7 cardinals and 1,000 priests, with over 32,000 faithful registered to attend."

"It would be misleading if the day of the beatification of the Ulma family served only to bring back to memory the terror of the atrocities perpetrated by their executioners, on whom, by the way, the judgment of history already weighs heavily," Cdl. Semeraro preached in his homily. 

He added, "We want today to be a day of joy, because the page of the gospel written on paper has become for us a lived reality, which shines brightly in the Christian witness of the Ulma couple and in the martyrdom of the new blesseds."

Poland's state Institute of National Remembrance recounted the story:

Jews were hidden in Markowa by several families, but the Ulmas took in the largest group. This took place most likely in December 1942. They were friends of the Ulmas from Łańcut: Saul Goldman with his sons Baruch, Mechel, Joachim and Mojżesz, and the Ulmas' neighbours from Markowa — Gołda Grünfeld and Lea Didner, daughters of Chaim Goldman — a relative of the aforementioned Saul. Lea was in hiding with her little daughter named Reszla.

How the Germans found out about the family and its inhabitants remains a mystery. IPN and others speculate a police officer named Włodzimierz Leś may have been the one to alert the Nazis. 

IPN documents that "according to the underground's findings, he [Leś] was an exceptionally zealous collaborator with the German occupiers. The documents also suggest that before the Goldmans turned to the Ulmas for help, it was Leś who, for money, helped them hide in Łańcut and later drove them out, while keeping their property."

The Germans arrived at the Ulma farm on March 24, 1944. The Germans first shot the eight Jewish individuals, followed by Mr. and Mrs. Ulma, and then their children. The oldest Ulma child was only seven years old. According to the Associated Press, "Jozef Ulma, 44, was a farmer, Catholic activist and amateur photographer who documented family and village life. He lived with his 31-year-old wife Wiktoria; their daughters Stanislawa, 7; Barbara, 6; Maria, 18 months; and sons Wladyslaw, 5; Franciszek, 3; and Antoni, 2."

The Catholic Church beatified an entire family at once: Jozef & Wiktoria Ulma with their 7 children

The seventh child was a newborn. "The youngest of their children lived for only moments — Wiktoria was seven months pregnant at the time of her martyrdom, and her infant child was found beside her body," detailed The American Spectator. "As she died, Wiktoria had gone into labor, delivering the son who joined his family as a martyr for the Faith."

Today, the little blessed cries out to the modern world to welcome, love and protect life.

Cardinal Semeraro proclaimed, "Without ever having uttered a word, today, the little blessed cries out to the modern world to welcome, love and protect life, especially that of the defenseless and marginalized, from the moment of conception until natural death."

Before the beatification, the Dicastery for the Causes of the Saints released a clarification on the infant: 

In reference to news recently released in some media in relation to the martyrdom of the Ulma family, whose rite of beatification will be celebrated on Sunday, Sept. 10, 2023 in Markowa, Poland, this Dicastery of the Causes of Saints specifies the following:

1. At the time of the massacre, Ms. Wittoria Ulma was pregnant with her seventh child.

2. A son was born at the time of his mother's martyrdom.

3. This son, therefore, joined the other children, who are also martyrs. In fact, through the martyrdom of his parents, he received the baptism of blood.

"Polish President Andrzej Duda along with the ruling party leader Jaroslaw Kaczyński and Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, as well as Poland's chief rabbi, Michael Schudrich, attended the celebration in Markowa," noted the AP. 

Morawiecki posted on social media, "Instead of asking what right the Ulmas had to endanger their children, we should ask what right the Germans had to murder innocent Polish children."

In an online post honoring the family, the Institute of National Remembrance commented, "The Ulma family story of a serene life cut short by a tragedy is a story of love and inspiration. Anyone can show love to their relations, but few can extend that to strangers, especially when it means death. Anyone can be human in safety, few can remain human in danger. The Ulma family could."

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